Gulshaan’s slimming down – and spicing up
29 September, 2017 — By Tom Moggach
The family behind Gulshaan is taking a new approach by drastically reducing its menu and cooking more dishes from scratch
AT first sight, not much has changed at Gulshaan – an Indian restaurant that’s been trading on Kentish Town Road for nearly 20 years.
But behind the scenes there’s been a culinary coup: could-be-anywhere curries replaced with more authentic one-pot cooking.
Most curry houses in Britain rely on a simple trick to offer a large menu. The meat is pre-cooked in bulk in one generic thick sauce.
When the orders ping in – say for a madras, korma or jalfrezi – the chef scoops out a portion then heats it through with the relevant spices and ingredients.
The danger here is one of blandness. Curries start to taste oddly similar, rather than boasting distinctive character of their own.
So the Bangladeshi family behind Gulshaan are trying a new approach – drastically slimming down the menu and cooking more dishes from scratch.
We pitched up on a weekday night. The décor of the place is pleasant if unremarkable: comfy black chairs and proper white tablecloths, subtly lit walls the colour of peach.
They now sell beers from Camden Brewery, whose pale ale in particular is a terrific complement to curry. Cycling past their new brewery bar and local pub, Camden’s Daughter, it’s noticeable that the buzz around this brewery has diminished ever since their sell out to AB InBev, reputedly the world’s biggest beer maker.
Back at Gulshaan, we cracked through poppadoms and crisp aloo tikki, the Punjabi street food snack of mashed potato, onions and spices (priced at a modest £3.95).
So far, no fireworks. But it’s the main dishes where this new style of cooking really shines through.
The lamb korma (£7.95), for example, is a quite different beast to the sickly sweet, coconutty specimens you often find elsewhere.
“Less coconut, less cream, less butter; more spice and more kick,” says Mohammed Miah, one of the two brothers that run the place.
Murgh Badi Saba (£7.95) is their signature dish – and for good reason.
The family invented it themselves: tender chicken in a gorgeous sauce spiked with lashings of ginger, green chilli and finished with homemade yoghurt.
Tarka daal (£3.95) is also spot-on – highly aromatic from cumin, mustard seeds and caramelised garlic.
We scooped up the curries with naan bread from the charcoal-fired tandoor oven: light and puffy rather than the stodgy doorstops often passed off as the real deal.
The food at Gulshaan has most definitely improved.
Before you go, it’s worth noting that for some reason there’s no fish on the menu – although several prawn dishes.
Vegetarians might also crave a touch more choice.
Mohammed, who served us, admits he was “fed up” with running the restaurant in its previous incarnation.
He’s travelled the Indian hot spots of Greater London – Southall, Wembley and Green Street – to pick up new ideas.
More tasty changes are in the pipeline – so watch this space.
343 Kentish Town Road, NW5
0207 485 5566